Thursday, July 18, 2024
HomeWorld newsThe Shanghai duo Birdhead is changing photography

The Shanghai duo Birdhead is changing photography

At the back of Kondaya Genbei, a 280-year-old obi wholesaler in Kyoto, art visitors in slippers climb a spiral staircase just wide enough for one person. At the top of the narrow tower, a chamber shrouded in darkness is illuminated from above by a thin circle of natural light. The fixture resembles a solar eclipse hanging above the scene: sculptures, presented as idols, made of collages of body parts, camera parts and small photo frames. They represent not humanity’s devotion to a particular god, but its unwavering faith in photography. Cryptic and sardonic, this is the world of Birdhead.

‘Phototheism’ is an imaginary religion of the artist duo Birdhead, now on display as part of their exhibition at the 12th edition of Kyotographie, the international photo festival in the old capital. “Welcome to Birdhead World Again, Kyoto 2024” features three projects from Shanghai duo Ji Weiyu and Song Tao, high school friends who began collaborating under the name Birdhead after random keystrokes produced the characters 鳥 and 頭 together.

Since their collaboration in 2004, Birdhead has exhibited work in the main exhibition of the 2011 Venice Biennale and as part of a 2012 exhibition of new photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, with some of their work acquired by Tate Modern.

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